We made our way to french class and learned we would be taught by Miss. Navin.
I was a bit disappointed at first because the original plan was we were to be taught by Miss. Howitt.
Miss Howitt was Luan Howitt’s mum and Luan and I was always in each other’s houses when we were kids.
When we came to Gateactre for the look at high school life day the lesson Janet Howitt gave was a lot of fun and the idea of speaking another language fascinated me.
Unfortunately, Janet quit teaching and had been given a very lucrative job offer elsewhere doing something non-teaching-related.
When I say unfortunately I meant for us I’m very happy she went onto do better things.
Luan and I were mates through high school but not as close as we were when we were kids but we never fell out.
We lost touch for a while and then when Facebook came along he added me and we briefly got back in touch online.
When I wrote about Luan and Mr. Moore from primary school I looked for him again online as for some reason he had deleted me.
I added him again which he promptly declined. I’ve no idea what I’ve done to upset him and even inboxed him asking him what was up?
He ignored it so I left him to it.
Many people grow apart after school but it’s a shame as at one time we were close.
I hope whatever he’s doing he’s happy and doing well for himself as he was a good friend to me as a kid.
Anyway, Anne Navin was a really nice woman. She spoke French perfectly and she seemed genuinely pleased to see us in every lesson.
You could have a joke with her and the French lessons at first had listening components so I thought to myself this will be my golden ticket.
The first week Navin did herself no favours as she was working with a prehistoric tape player.
It was similar to the one shown below
We were learning to count to ten in French and one in French is un
There was an issue with the tape player and it slowed down the tape and it kept repeating un un un un un un.
To all, us kids thought it sounded like a French guy having sex and we were all pissing ourselves laughing.
She was getting more stressed trying to figure out the problem and get the class back on track and she managed this as we liked her and we wanted to learn.
After ten minutes of this french porno, we continued the lesson.
French class started quite well and it was a lot of listening and repeat so I threw myself into it.
I figured to myself early on if I could learn a language or two even though I’m not likely to do well at my exams these will be a marketable skill I can use down the road sometime.
If I had been born twenty years later I would have been a lot more interested in longer as there are more resources available such as apps and YouTube.
These were the days of chalk and slate in the class well not quite but it certainly felt that way.
There was no way of going home and practising French and checking yourself unless your mum and dad were French or bilingual.
So we had to learn what we could in the classroom.
All exams are just a test of memory so if your memory was good then learning a language could really boost your GCSE scores down the road and many students took full advantage of that.
I started to lost interest quickly as the curriculum demanded a lot of written French.
Now this would be a huge struggle for me with my dyslexia it was hard enough for me to put my spoken English language onto paper and now the game had all changed.
There are hundreds of examples I could use but we will use the number three as a guide.
Three in french sounds like Twa but it’s spelled Trois.
Even at a basic level, there were a lot of these words that kept creeping in.
All of the homework was written and mine would always come back wrong.
Anne Navin was never shitty to me about it even though she didn’t understand why I couldn’t do it.
This is no poor reflection on her it was just a sign of the times.
There was no help available and I have spoken about this in a lot of detail in past blogs.
After a while, the homework stopped, and then classes became more intense but it was all written based so I started acting up in French as well.
It wasn’t Anne’s fault she was a good teacher but she had to follow the curriculum so she did her best with what she had.
I remember being sat next to John Farrell one day and we kept making each other laugh and disrupting the class and like always we were separated.
I’m sat by myself looking at these awful textbooks trying to listen and not to get distracted but failing badly.
Then I noticed Linda Gladman’s troll doll had fallen on the floor and I picked it up.
I threw it at Billy Collins and he looked deep in thought to what he was going to do next.
The next thing I heard Linda laughing and a few others and I can see this doll in Will’s pants with the head sticking out of the zip in his pants.
Every time Navin turned around we would look down and carry on working.
Not wanting to be outdone John Farrell put two troll dolls into his pants peeping out the zip and like I’ve mentioned before John is one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever met.
He starts doing the same as Will and we are all pissing ourselves but John gets carried away by the applause.
He’s pushing the troll against the desk with his crotch and even Billy has stopped his troll crotch thing as he has tears in his eyes from laughing.
John starts moving his hips sexually messing about and that’s when we all broke down
Not because it was especially funny but Navin had been watching him furious for about thirty seconds and we had spotted it but John hadn’t.
As soon as John realised he had fucked up Navin was in his face screaming for him to get out and the class lost control.
John was lifted out of his chair and we all cheered as he was dragged outside by his arm and the two trolls fell on the floor.
We listened as John got the bollocking of his life and the whole point of the lesson was lost forever.
The bell went ten minutes later and we all left with a smile except for John who left with detention.
Luckily Navin didn’t report him to Miss. Kitchen as then his life would be over.
Miss. Kitchen was awesome but by god, she could shout and you didn’t want to upset her.
Even in the first year, I saw that my options were thinning out quickly.
I knew what I was doing but on paper, it looked like I was a simpleton due to my undiagnosed dyslexia.
If I was born ten years later there was a lot more help available but every day was a big game of catch up.
The issue I had as I got older is that no matter how I played the game I could see it was rigged.
In the second year, we were put into sets for French and unsurprisingly I went into the bottom set.
I had two more years of French before I could pick my own options which would be our GCSE subjects.
Dave Walton was our teacher in both second and third year and he was a nice guy.
He was in his fifties and had dark hair and had a bit of a belly but wasn’t fat
He knew none of us wanted to be there so he left us to our own devices.
He would give us textbooks and tell us to do something but we all knew it was a waste of time.
I was in a class full of naughty kids or the kids who had learning difficulties so it would turn into a cluster fuck quickly.
This is no bad reflection on Walton I know people who he taught when he was responsible for higher sets and he helped them a lot and knew his stuff.
I’ve no idea what happened to Mr. Walton but if he’s still alive he must in his late seventies.
A gentleman who can take a joke and be very quick to give it back when needed.
That’s another reason why we liked him we would say something to him and right away he would fire back and usually whoever was the smart-arse would have their head down while the class laughed at them.
I’m not ashamed to admit he put me in my place many times.
History class was always uneventful because a lot of us were interested in the subject.
Mr. Parkinson taught us in the first year he was a very strict old school teacher.
It was hard to work him out and ill try to explain.
None of us messed about and we always listened then someone would ask him a question which he had already told the class and he would fume
Hooray lad Hooray well-done son do you understand now or should I tell you again
These outbursts would be strange and whoever got them would be more surprised than in shock.
His breath was awful like he had drunk 2 litres of black coffee and then smoked twenty cigarettes.
It should be said overall he was a nice guy even with these once in a while outbursts and I did enjoy Mr. Parkinson’s lessons
Many teachers smoked back then it was seen as normal and people didn’t go to the gym the same as they did now.
As a result of this, Mr. Duffy looked like even more of a unit as we were all tiny and most of the teachers were sedentary.
In the second year, we had a new teacher called Miss. Ganderton and again we liked her and liked the lesson so we worked for her.
She was good to us all so we returned the favour and tried our best.
I picked history for one of my GCSE subjects a year later and this is when I found out the game was rigged.
If you’re in the bottom sets for other subjects the school will put you in for the lower tier paper so then even if you scored 90 percent the highest possible grade you could get was a D.
The board of education only changed this ruling about five years ago and now everyone will do the same paper as it’s easier to work out the average of the year without any outliers.
So now you have a chance to leave school with a couple of GCSEs but this forward-thinking was none existent back in the nineties.
It’s important to turn a negative into a positive so bad grades or not it was very interesting to learn about the history of the world.
It’s crazy to think about what you can watch on YouTube now and this app played a big part in me getting my degree years later.
Maths started badly but went better in time for my GCSEs we were taught by Miss. Fletcher, who was around 60 and took no prisoners.
In the first year, I hated her as I couldn’t do the work.
I could add up and do what I needed to get by in the world but it seemed like black magic when we got into the belly of maths.
Me and her locked horns on multiple occasions and parents’ evening she decimated me to mum.
She was right to do this as I did myself no favours in those early years.
Later on, when I had her for GCSE maths she was a different person.
When she saw I was willing to work she treated me completely different and we had a fantastic relationship.
In all fairness, I can’t blame her for treating me badly in the first year as I brought it on myself.
She reminded me of Miss. Daisy from the movie Driving Miss Daisy and even though she was as old at the time she went out of her way to help me in the fourth and fifth year.
Things took an interesting turn though in the first year when Miss Fletcher had to go into hospital for two weeks.
Mr. Hillyard took over her classes and he was roughly the same age but he looked a lot older.
We knew not to mess about with him and we just sat there in silence doing our work.
Hillyard was proper old school and he didn’t take any shit.
That in itself isn’t bad but he presented himself as a bully and I couldn’t stand him for that.
We were all sat quietly in class and then Woody farted and it echoed all over the place.
All of us started giggling and even Hillyard smiled a little.
If Woody would have left it there he would have been OK but he starts smiling and wafting the smelly gas around the room and Hillyard flipped.
Get out boy get out now
Wood put his head down and walking outside and Hillyard followed.
We found out later what happened but not at the time but Woody came back into the room in tears.
Hillyard forced his fingers into his ears and this was before Woody knew how to fight or take care of himself.
I remember looking at Woody in tears and it was way out of order.
This also brought back a lot of memories with Francesca and I vowed to myself again as a reminder if any of these teachers put a hand on you then you will fucking bladder them and I meant it.
A lot of this was fear-based as I remember all of the sleepless nights Francesca had caused me with her bullying and her abuse of power.
There is a saying be careful what you wish for and this was going to present itself to me sooner than I thought.
I’m sat doing my work and not bothering anyone and I heard
Stand up boy
I carried on working because I hadn’t done anything and I thought he was talking to someone else
Stand upright now boy he shouted at me
Don’t answer me back boy
I haven’t said a word
You were just talking I heard you
No, I wasn’t
Don’t you dare give me cheek
I haven’t done anything I shouted back at him
He screamed I can’t stand liars get out of my class
I left the class furious as I hadn’t done anything and then I heard his footsteps behind me and I knew what was coming
No fuck this he’s getting it I thought to myself.
Never again will a teacher hit me and if he wanted it then he was going to get it.
I was breathing heavily getting myself into that dark place I needed to be and then Hillyard appeared in the doorway and closed it behind him it was on and I knew it.
Come on then I screamed at him which took him by surprise.
He froze as he wasn’t expecting this and then a couple of seconds later started walking towards me.
My fists were clenched my hands were up and I screamed at him again.
You’re not going to fucking touch me
Don’t swear at me boy he said back but questioning himself as he saw there was no going back now.
Then out of nowhere, Mr. Poole appeared in the corridor
Arlo what’s happening here
I’ll tell you what’s not happening he’s not going to touch me
Poole deescalated the situation quickly and sent me down to see Miss. Kitchen.
Poole never questioned my motives only my behaviour which led me to believe that this wasn’t the first time Hillyard had done something like this.
I got to Miss. Kitchens office and she bollocked me but nothing too serious and told me I was on my last warning.
I would be on school report if this continued and then it would be suspension and then I would be expelled.
Considering I was seconds away from a huge punch up with a teacher I knew I had got off lightly.
She never questioned the incident which again leads me to believe it was not isolated.
I went back up to Hillyard’s class and took my seat.
At the end of the class, Hillyard told me to wait behind but he was quite softly spoken so I was on my guard but not worried.
He said he was sorry for shouting and asked if we were ok?
I was more relieved he wasn’t looking for round two and said of course sir.
He offered me his hand and I shook it. I’m not sure if he found the person who was talking or he was more surprised that I was willing to go toe to toe with him.
He was always OK with me after that. I wouldn’t say we were friends but he took the time out of his day to say hello and would stop for a chat from time to time.
I know he retired when I was about 23 because I was working the door on a nightclub called Chillies 2 in Liverpool.
I saw him out with a load of teachers and he was rotten drunk.
Not in a bad way but in a partying way and he stopped to talk to me at the door.
He kept shaking my hand then hugging me saying it’s nice to see you mate.
This was his retirement party and he was partying like it was 1999
That’s the last I heard from him and I don’t even know if he’s still alive.
I hope he is because except for our almost fight and what he did to Woody he turned out to be a nice guy under all the shouting.
It wouldn’t take long for me to be in trouble again and soon I would be placed under disciplinary report.